Koch Funded Group Seeks to Kill EVs
August 17, 2016
A long-awaited campaign to rebrand fossil fuels called Fueling U.S. Forward made its public debut at the Red State Gathering 2016 on Saturday, where the organization’s President and CEOCharles Drevna gave attendees the inside scoop on the effort, and confirmed that the campaign is backed financially by Koch Industries.
Back in February, Peter Stone first reported in the Huffington Post that a $10 million-a-year effort was proposed by a Koch Industries board member, James Mahoney, and Mr. Drevna, aiming “to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles.” In early August, the Fueling U.S. Forward website launched, and on Saturday, the first public comments were made about the campaign by Mr. Drevna, and they revealed a lot about how the Koch-backed initiative is working to re-frame fossil fuels.
“We need a sustainable energy to ensure the future of the country,” Mr. Drevna told the audience.
The source of that energy? That which Mr. Drevna labeled “reliable, abundant, efficient and sustainable fuels.”
“Folks, that’s of course the fossil fuels,” he immediately added.
Never mind that fossil fuels don’t align with any dictionary definition of “sustainable,” as oil, gas and coal reserves are limited to what’s buried in the ground, unlike renewable sources of energy. Technically speaking, fossil fuels are the opposite of sustainable energy sources — but that fact did little to slow Mr. Drevna down as he made what he called the “pro-human” case for burning fossil fuels.
The top line takeaway from Mr. Drevna’s comments is that the Koch-funded Fueling U.S. Forward is an effort to rebrand fossil fuels, focusing on the “positive” sides of oil, gas and coal.
The new initiative comes at a time when the impacts of climate change are becoming more difficult to ignore. 2016 is already on track to be the hottest year ever recorded, a mid-year climate analysis from NASA reported, and unusual storms, like the torrential rainfall that struck the Gulf Coast over the past few days causing historic flooding, have become more frequent.
For its part, Fueling U.S. Forward wants to talk not about statistics, facts and figures, but to reach people’s emotions.
“We’ve got to take this to the emotional and personal level,” Mr. Drevna, a former D.C. lobbyist and Sunoco executive, told the crowd. “Oil and natural gas, they’re not the fuels of the past and maybe the present or a necessary evil. They are the future.”
As the renewable revolution gathers a pace, the oil industry has launched yet another PR offensive trying to rebrand fossil fuels as sustainable.
So first the good news. The percentage of electricity generated by renewables in the world’s largest economies has soared by 70 per cent over the last five years, according to new research.
Data compiled by the Bloomberg New Energy Finance research group for the Financial Times reveals that a real “shift away from fossil fuels is starting to take hold in some regions”.
The data reveals that G20 countries collectively produced 8 per cent of their electricity from solar, wind and other renewable sources in 2015, up from 4.6 per cent in 2010.
Germany now tops the list of seven G20 members who generate over 10 per cent of their electricity from renewables, with the country producing over a third of its electricity from renewables.
Despite Obama’s efforts to cut fossil fuels from the country’s generation mix, the US still lags behind, generating only about 8 per cent of power from renewables.
The data is released as Bill Mckibben, from 350.org, has penned a powerful polemic of the need to fight much harder to combat climate change in the New Republic. Likening the battle against climate change to World War III, he writes:
“We’re used to war as metaphor: the war on poverty, the war on drugs, the war on cancer … But this is no metaphor. By most of the ways we measure wars, climate change is the real deal: Carbon and methane are seizing physical territory, sowing havoc and panic, racking up casualties, and even destabilizing governments …It’s not that global warming is like a world war. It is a world war.”
He adds: “And as in all conflicts, millions of refugees are fleeing the horrors of war, their numbers swelling daily as they’re forced to abandon their homes to escape famine and desolation and disease. World War III is well and truly underway. And we are losing.”
Mckibben points out how America could be leading the renewable power race. Research by Mark Jacobson, a Professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University reveals that America could generate 80 to 85 percent of its power from sun, wind, and water by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050. And its not just in the US. The Stanford team has drawn up similar detailed plans for 139 other nations.
So why is it not happening? Why are we losing? One reason is that “There are powerful forces, of course, that stand in the way of a full-scale mobilization.”
And those powerful forces of course are Big Oil and its allies, which despite climate change continue to resist and undermine the renewable revolution and promote fossil fuels. As in any war, propaganda is key and the oil industry keeps on pumping out its message.
Anyone who has been following the climate debate will know of the way that Exxon and the Koch brothers have long distorted it by pouring tens of millions into groups that deny climate change.
The Koch brothers are now funding a new campaign aimed at “rebranding” fossil fuels called Fueling U.S. Forward. The website is packed full of carefully crafted oil industry messaging and statistics.
But be careful what you read. Big Oil has tried this before, with BP rebranding itself “Beyond Petroleum” just after the Millennium, and Shell, Chevron and others publishing greenwashing adverts trying to portray oil as green.
And now they are trying it again.